How long does it take to learn French?

Nov 28 / Ellie Louis

I used to believe that teaching you French for an hour or so a week, with a little homework in between, would get you to your French goals in time. I thought that weekly classes would be enough to build your confidence and competence to the level you were looking to achieve.

Let's face it, you aren't trying to write a novel or tackle the classics in French. You, like everyone else at The French Room,  are looking to be able to hold a conversation in French.

I thought teaching you a class for an hour or so a week was enough to do that,  that was until I read a book by Malcolm Gladwell - The Outliers

"In his 2008 book “Outliers,” Malcolm Gladwell wrote that “ten thousand hours is the magic number of greatness.” The meaning behind this, in theory, is simple. To be considered elite and truly experienced within a certain craft, you must practice it for ten thousand hours." Forbes 2019

The 10,000 hour thing. That's a lot of studying!

The discovery of the 10,000 hour rule made me rethink my approach to teaching French. I knew that to truly help you reach your language learning goals, I needed to offer more than just weekly classes.

So, I asked my students what they were doing outside of class to improve their French, and I was amazed by the variety of resources they were using, from Duolingo to Netflix shows. I compiled a list of the top 10 ways to learn French from home and shared it with my students and the world, with the hope that it would inspire and inform them to take charge of their own language learning journey.

But, I soon realised that while the list generated initial interest, it didn't have the lasting impact I hoped for. I noticed that the most likely out of class extra to be kept going was Duolingo, thanks to its addictive levels, lives, and points.

It hit me that just like with my own swimming practice and training, doing it as part of a group is always easier and more enjoyable than plugging away on your own. That's why I decided my French Room students would benefit from me offering something more.

Learn French. Feel Good.

When I started The French Room it didn't take me long to come up with the strapline "Learn French. Feel Good." It was what I wanted for my students from the beginning. I believe you need to be enjoying something to really engage with learning it. And you really need to engage with the French language if you want to progress.

I think studying French is a wonderful, life-affirming experience that comes with a whole host of highly valuable benefits. 

For a start you are constantly uncovering new discoveries no matter how long you have been studying the language. That feeling of curiosity peeked and satisfied just keeps us language learners hooked to keep on finding out more. 

Then there's the buzz when you can do something that you previously couldn't do, be it understand a conversation, say something in a way that will definitely be understood or even share a joke. Those constant little challenges and rewards give us all a great dopamine hit! And when you share that journey with others, it's social and friendly. 

And it's a special thing to spend time with people sharing a common interest. And believe me, The French Room students are some of the warmest, kindest and most supportive individuals you will ever meet, who truly understand and celebrate each other's achievements and struggles. 

But we can't spend 10,000 hours together can we?

10,000 hours is a lot of time! But the principle is that if we dedicate time. little and often, in our daily routine we will become masters of what we are practising.
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